Walking the walk on recognition
How many of us are playing at Reward & Recognition and how many are actually delivering effective programmes?
We all pay lip service to recognition. Ask a dozen managers if they believe it necessary to recognise and reward the value their teams deliver and in all likelihood you'll get a dozen positive responses. But how many are simply talking the talk instead of walking the walk?
One manager may make recognition a real priority – occasionally. Another sees recognition as a team lunch every couple of months. While for a third, recognizing her team means an almost constant rat-a-tat of praise and rewards. In the last case, perhaps a lack of personalisation or meaningful acknowledgement causing even greater dissatisfaction than doing nothing would have done.
So what is it that allows recognition programmes to actually work?
Many studies, including those by Gostick and Elton, authors of 'The Carrot Principle' as reported in the 'HBR Guide to Giving Effective Feedback', support our view that that real rewards can't always be generalized across groups and can't always be generic.
A. Frequency is important
What we know doesn't work is a total free for all, with occasional recognition and then long periods of nothing. Research as early as 1999 by The Gallup Organization showed that employees' engagement and motivation are strongly affected by how often they receive recognition for their work. Many employees in many organisations, like those at KPMG, have found that satisfaction with their employer rose by 20% when a controlled, regular recognition programme was introduced. Here at Active we believe recognition delivered regularly, and highlighting specific positive actions, is more than worth the effort involved. Our tailored reward and recognition programmes all allow for tracking praise and commendations to individuals.
B. Be true to the organisation
When businesses come up with a list of corporate values too often it stays as just that, a list; there is almost no better way of linking corporate values to real changes in behaviours than by linking them to a reward and recognition programme. We all know that employees can forget, completely ignore, or even worse, recite their corporate values as a mantra with no connection with them personally. By tying solid corporate values to real personal recognition we can stop employees from tuning out, especially if their colleagues are also aware of the praise that's being shared - and why. Employers should always try and link praise to individual behaviours and corporate values - we do ourselves for our own internal programme at Active and we make sure that it's built into every one of our client programmes.
C. Make recognition appropriate
Too many low value rewards, ill-thought through and without a connection to the teams they are meant to excite, are distributed across companies, delivering little real value to employees. Worse still, they're being met in some cases with an element of derision by employees. It is worth considering that globally it's costing businesses millions to deliver such ineffective programmes. If someone isn't going to appreciate low value coffee shop or department store vouchers don't reward them with such gifts. Try wherever possible to link the type and value of the reward to the magnitude of the input from the employee. If one person constantly goes above and beyond, giving up weekends to drive a major project forwards and delivering massive revenue uplift for the business, there's likely to be nothing more demotivating for them than seeing a similar reward being given to another employee who has just done what is expected of them, well.
D. Make it personal to the individual
Which brings us on to the last point in our brief checklist. What's of real value to one employee can differ massively from what excites another. This is a tough one for all businesses, especially bigger ones, but the time spent investing in personalising rewards so that they are truly appreciated and reinforce positive behaviours is worth every second. One employee might really value working in a new exciting area of the business as recognition for her efforts; another may work so hard they practically live at the office and he might appreciate a day's forced leave, to go and enjoy some well-earned R&R with the family.
It's certainly true that rewards more personal than just cash can have much more of an emotional connection with employees. And that's what a truly great programme should look to bring about, truly appreciated and motivating recognition for real positive changes in employee behaviour that support the company's vision.
Active are experts in delivering employee reward and recognition programmes and our online recognition platform provides a comprehensive range of modules to help you build a successful reward and recognition strategy for your organisation. For more information please contact us
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